Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Attention Deficit Bread Baking Disorder

My friend Kim says that I have Adult ADD. She diagnosed me one day when we were sitting in a traffic jam. I was getting really angry that someone didn't properly do their job to set us up for a make up event with a big retailer and I was getting really annoyed at the situation on rte 128. To be quite honest, I don't know why my behavior made her think I am ADD. Seriously, anyone who gets a little agitated while sitting in a parking lot of cars on a major highway in MA might as well have the same diagnosis.

However, I do know that an overload of technology, reality shows, facebook, twitter, email, information, cell phones, video games, you name it has led me and just about the rest of Western society to become totally schizo and over saturated. I start to spiral out of control, trying to ingest everything I find interesting, holding on to magazines and books thinking one day I will read them, piles of crap invade my space as I acquire things for a project I would like to someday work on. How do I filter out what is important?

The only way I know how is to regain some sort of focus. That isn't to say that I in any way deal with all of the chaos. I merely shut the door on it and act like its not there. Then I make bread.

Here's the deal with bread. For the short time period required to proof the yeast and mix the dough, I can make my addled brain pay attention to one thing. If I were to try anything else more time consuming, I'm sure my mind would wander so 10-15 minutes is the max I can handle. (My generation thanks, you MTV!) Then I can go back to the madness, the answering of the emails, the pile of junk mail that I am compelled to "go through" while the dough rises. Once the first rise is complete, I am able again to focus my thoughts for the 10-20 minutes required to punch down (very therapeutic) and knead (more therapy) the dough. While I form the dough into loaves, my mind begins to chatter about all the tasks that are building themselves up around me. When in reality, if I left them undone, it would surely not end the world. In fact, I would probably be more sane if I left them all behind. O.K., I'll just do one or two little things while the dough rises again.

My oven beeps to signal 400 degrees and it's time to bake the bread. Maybe I'll force myself to relax? What about my "to-do" list that is a mile long and still growing? What about my sanity? How the heck do all of those perfect mothers manage to have such clean houses? Enough already! Since the kitchen is covered in flour, I might as well start the process again. Maybe this time I can calm myself down long enough to stop and smell the roses or at least the aroma of the bread baking!

Check out the madness by cutting and pasting this web address into your browser: http://www.facebook.com/#/album.php?aid=39643&id=1067705752&ref=mf

Val's Farm House White Bread
Makes 2 loaves

1 package dry yeast
2 cups warm milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
pinch of salt
5-6 cups all purpose flour

Place the yeast in a small bowl. Heat the milk and the sugar in a small pan until luke warm. Pour 1/2 cup milk and sugar mixture over the yeast and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the butter to the remaining milk and sugar mixture and place over low heat until the butter is just melted being careful not to let the mixture get too hot. Add the salt.
Once the yeast mixture has started to puff up, pour it into a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining milk/sugar/butter and salt mixture. Mix in enough flour to form a sticky dough.
Turn dough onto floured board and knead for 5-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest in a warm spot until doubled in size.
Punch down dough and turn out onto floured board. Knead for 5 minutes and form into loaves. Place in greased bread pans and cover with plastic wrap to double in size.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake bread on middle rack for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack before slicing.

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